‘Game of Thrones’ CD Praises ‘Amazing’ Actors

Photo Source: Courtesy of HBO

This Sunday, April 24, as “Game of Thrones” Season 6 premieres, Nina Gold will become the first casting director honored with BAFTA’s Special Award at the annual British Academy’s Television Craft Awards. The casting director behind the HBO ensemble hit, as well as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “The Kings Speech,” “The Theory of Everything,” and others recently spoke with the Hollywood Reporter about casting the next-big-thing with the likes of Daisy Ridley and Emilia Clarke—which she describes as “really the fun bit.” We’ve rounded up three takeaways below. Read the full interview here.

1. Ridley “had the right feel” from the start.
Gold recalls having free reign to find big screen newbies for “Star Wars,” assuming the producers thought there was a enough star power with Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. “We certainly didn’t want people who had been in other franchises,” she told the Reporter. “I had cast John [Boyega] before, when he was 18, in “Attack the Block.” Finding him then took months and months meeting teenagers, not even necessarily professional actors, but young kids who wanted to act and from all sorts of drama groups and other weird and wonderful ways of finding them. John actually had a job, a part in a play at London’s Tricycle Theater, and I saw him in that and it started from there. Daisy was working in a bar, but also acting. We did see gazillions of people for both roles. But her agent sent her in, and she was really good. She straight away struck a chord and seemed to have the right feel from the first moment, which is unusual.”

2. In casting “Star Wars,” diversity was key.
Noting that the “Star Wars” reboot stood out for its diverse cast—among other reasons—Gold clarifies that Boyega and Ridley were cast because they were the best of the best, not because they filled a predetermined quota. “I think in the casting department, and very much J.J. [Abrams] and Kathy Kennedy, they were incredibly aware that they didn’t want to make a film without a black character in one of the major parts, that would be a weird way to look at casting a film and a strange approach in 2014,” she said. “While it was ‘let’s cast the most amazing, most right person for this part,’ nobody was saying, ‘He’s got to be black and she’s got to be white.’ It was a general awareness that we didn’t want to ignore the reality of the modern world, even though it’s not even the modern world, it’s a galaxy far, far away!”

3. She is particularly proud of her work on “Game of Thrones.”
When asked what “names” she is especially proud to have discovered, Gold cites the talent on HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” specifically Clarke, Kit Harrington, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, and Richard Madden. “[They] had not really had a job before, or barely,” Gold said. “Credit to them, rather than me, they took those parts and really developed and grew. The medium really gives them a chance to explore their character and develop their potential, and they did and they’ve really grown and shown us what they can do, which is pretty amazing.”

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Benjamin Lindsay
Benjamin Lindsay is a senior editor at Backstage, where if you’re reading it in our weekly magazine, he’s written or edited it first. He’s also producer and host of our inaugural on-camera interview series, Backstage Live, taking informative deep-dives with actors across mediums to discuss their craft, their work, and their advice for others getting started in the field.
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